Introduction.This special issue of Education and Treatment of Children (ETC) provides in-depth information on behavioral and academic interventions for students with emotional and behavioral disorders (EBD). This issue consists of ten peer-reviewed articles that were originally presented at the 34th Annual Teacher Educators of Children with Behavioral Disorders (TECBD) Conference in Tempe, Arizona in October 2010. The co-editors of this special issue and reviewers from both ETC and Behavioral Disorders were responsible for reviewing and recommending the articles included in this special issue of ETC.
Collectively, these articles address a variety of topics, perspectives, and research approaches related to students with EBD. This issue is divided into two parts. The first part consists of five articles focusing on: (1) future directions for the field of EBD, (2) social validity of positive behavior interventions and supports (PBIS), (3) the relationship among language, behavior, cognitive ability and academic performance for students with educational disabilities, (4) effective practices in alternative education, and (5) transition services for juvenile delinquents.
The issue begins with Lane and colleagues' article on the evolution of the field of EBD. Building on the past and the research of others, the authors present four recommendations for the field: (a) providing effective instruction and classroom management practices with high fidelity of implementation, (b) working within a systems-level approach, (c) developing a knowledge base through service-based research, and (d) preparing teachers to meet the challenges of an increasingly difficult job.
In the second article, Miramontes, Marchant and colleagues highlight the importance of social validity in a statewide positive behavior support (PBS) initiative. Active consumers of the program were asked about their perceptions of the program's social relevance, including the acceptability of its treatment goals, procedures, and outcomes. Based on their responses, the authors outlined a decisionmaking framework to suggest interventions, practices, and strategies at the secondary and tertiary levels. The findings indicate that improving usability and accessibility for key consumers would not only increase the likelihood of current stakeholders' interest in these programs, but also the success of implementing PBIS and RtI programs statewide and nationwide.
The difference between learning disabilities and emotional disabilities continues to be a topic of researchers' interest for students of all ages. In the third article, Goran and Gage focus on the relationship among language, behavior, cognitive ability, and academic performance constructs for school-aged students identified with educational disabilities. The authors provide a review of research findings in regard to language and academic deficits in students with emotional disturbance (ED) and specific learning disabilities (LD). The findings indicate that for both the groups, language is a significant predictor of cognitive ability and academic performance.
In the fourth article, Flower, McDaniel, and Jolivette examine the literature base of behavioral interventions implemented in alternative education settings for 30 years (1970-2010). Based on this review, the authors recommend nine effective practices for use in alternative settings that include; low student-to-teacher ratio, a highly structured classroom with behavioral classroom management, positive rather than punitive approaches to behavior management, school-based mentorship, use of functional behavioral assessment, social skills instruction, effective academic instruction, parent collaboration, and positive behavior supports. Finally, the authors point out the limited use of these effective practices in studies conducted in alternative settings.
The first section of this special issue concludes with Clark, Mathur, and Helding's study exploring the effects of basic versus enhanced transition services on youth with disabilities in juvenile detention. The authors present the results of a year-long, randomized, single blind, quasi-experimental study of post-release recidivism. Results indicate that youth with disabilities who received enhanced services from a transition specialist were 64% less likely to recidivate. Implications include guidance for future data analysis and research related to the transition of youth with disabilities from the juvenile justice system.
The second part of this issue of ETC consists of presentations included in the Dick Shores Strand at TECBD. Fox and Conroy provide an introduction to these articles. The five articles in this section, (by Alter et al., Chafouleas, Hawken, Kern et al, and Scott et al.), provide insight into a wide range of topics, analyses, and perspectives in the field of EBD.
In closing, through these articles we review the major foundational and methodological research issues facing our field. Each group of authors concludes with some challenges and new directions for soundness and relevance of research. We hope these articles provide impetus for designing innovative research and practices that benefit youth with emotional and behavioral disorders. We extend our sincere thanks to Dr. Katie Sprouls from Arizona State University and Ms. Candace Lane from University of Arizona, who served as Assistant Editors for this special issue of ETC and effectively managed the details of the review process. Finally, we want to invite the readers to join us at the next TECBD conference (http://tecbd.asu.edu).
Sarup R. Mathur, Carl J. Liaupsin, & Heather Griller Clark